Ben Affleck Praises Jennifer Lopez & Talks 'Bennifer' Past In New Interview

Lucille Barilla

Ben Affleck praised his ex-fiance, Jennifer Lopez, in a new interview with The Hollywood Reporter. He also touched on his past as a part of the press explosion that surrounded "Bennifer" and how his career was affected after their relationship ended in 2004.

The Oscar-winning actor and director, who scored golden statuettes for the films Good Will Hunting and Argo, spoke to the publication regarding his latest film The Way Back in which he portrayed an alcoholic hired to coach the high school basketball team he once starred for. The topic of the multi-hyphenate entertainer came up after the profile touched on the ups and downs of his entertainment career.

Ben spoke affectionately of his former love in the interview and said that when he and Jennifer dated between 2002-2004, the response was brutal and unfair to both of them in their personal and professional lives.

THR said that after the success of 1998's Armageddon and 2001's Pearl Harbor, Ben found himself in a professional slump. Starring roles in Daredevil in 2003, Surviving Christmas and Jersey Girl in 2004, and Gigli in 2005 did not elevate his profile in the industry and instead left Ben to try and find his footing once again.

Coupled with this was his high-profile relationship with Jennifer, whose career had elevated from a backup dancer to a high-profile singer, songwriter and actress.

The actor said to THR that his union with Jennifer was the "story of the month" and really geared up when tabloid publications and the explosion of the internet put their comings and goings front and center. The couple were engaged in 2002 when Ben presented Jen with a 6.1-carat pink diamond from Harry Winston that cost the actor a reported $2.5 million, as reported by Bazaar.

Ultimately they never made it down the aisle and Jennifer gave him the ring back.

"People were so f*cking mean about her — sexist, racist. Ugly, vicious sh*t was written about her in ways that if you wrote it now you would literally be fired for saying those things you said," he recalled of the early days of press coverage regarding their relationship.

"Now it's like, she's lionized and respected for the work she did, where she came from, what she accomplished — as well she should be! I would say you have a better shot, coming from the Bronx, of ending up as like [Justice Sonia] Sotomayor on the Supreme Court than you do of having Jennifer Lopez's career and being who she is at 50 years old today," Ben said in praise of his former fiancee.

As for Ben, he felt the heat also from the press. He revealed in the interview that during his slump people told him he was worthless, talentless, a hack, cad, and a nobody. He said he never took those criticisms to heart and instead, they fueled a fire in him to prove his naysayers wrong. After several critically successful films, he won an Oscar for Argo in 2013, which he directed, starred, and produced.